2021-06-03 Butterfly Conservation Press Office news; butterfly; moth; Severn Trent;
Butterfly conservation charity and severn trent announce new three-year conservation project in the midlands
A new three-year conservation project, which aims to reverse the declines of specific species of butterfly and moth in the Midlands area, has been announced by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation in partnership with Severn Trent.
The project, titled Butterfly Mosaics, will form part of Severn Trent's Great Big Nature Boost - a scheme that aims to look after water by looking after nature too.
The partnership will focus on developing the habitats of eight target butterfly species in areas across the region, working with local authorities, landowners and other organisations, creating knock-on positive effects for local communities and biodiversity as a whole.
The project will work across over 60 sites across the Midlands (excluding Herefordshire and Lincolnshire) and include the creation of scrapes (removing topsoil) and scallops (indentations in woodland ridges), butterfly banks, scrub and tree removal as well as the planting of larval foodplants. Project delivery will also depend upon work by dedicated volunteers including three Butterfly Conservation area Branches, West Midlands, East Midlands and Warwickshire.
Rhona Goddard, Regional Conservation Manager for the West Midlands at Butterfly Conservation said: "We're incredibly excited to announce this partnership with Severn Trent and are eager to get started with helping to reverse the declines of so many important butterfly species in this area. As well as being fantastic creatures in their own right, butterflies are also powerful indicators of the health of our environment. So, by investing in this conservation work, we will be benefitting wider local biodiversity too.
"Thank you to Severn Trent and to our incredible force of conservation volunteers across the region who are enthusiastic to get started. We will especially look forward to measuring how populations start to flourish in spring next year, once the works are well underway."
Butterfly Mosaics will protect and enhance populations of rare butterfly species across the Midlands area namely the Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Wood White, Grayling, Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, Small Blue, Brown Hairstreak and Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary. Other butterfly species also likely to benefit from management works include Silver-studded Blue, Green Hairstreak, Small Heath and White-letter Hairstreak.
High priority moth species will benefit from the project too, including Drab Looper, Welsh Clearwing and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth.
Zara Frankton, Senior Biodiversity Coordinator at Severn Trent, said: "This is an exciting conservation project which we're proud to support through our Great Big Nature Boost scheme.
"Our partnership with Butterfly Conservation is a really important one because we share the same ambitions to look after nature, which means looking after water too.
Zara added: This project is the perfect example of how we're trying to lead the way in green recovery and help the Midlands to build back better, as we continue to re-emerge from the pandemic."
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2021-03-31 Butterfly Conservation butterflies;
While last year may have been a particularly tough one for humans, 2020 was officially a 'good' year for butterflies according to the latest results from the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) led by Butterfly Conservation, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). However, as butterfly declines continue, conservation scientists are considering how the view of what makes a good year has changed.
Butterfly Conservation's Associate Director of Recording and Monitoring, Dr Richard Fox, explains: "Perhaps because of the warm sunny spring weather last year and the fact that more people were enjoying nature as part of their day-to-day activities than ever before, butterflies seemed more numerous. But in fact, our baseline experience of the nature around us has changed over time.
"The meticulously gathered UKBMS data show that it was the third good year in a row for the UK's butterflies, ranking 10th best (averaged across all species) since the scheme began in 1976. Nevertheless, almost half of our butterfly species (27 of 58 species) were recorded in below average numbers last year.
"It is worrying that, even after three good years, population levels of so many butterfly species continue to be down compared to 40 years ago, with just under a third (31%) of butterfly species assessed in the UK showing long-term declines.
"We need to be wary of shifting baseline syndrome, whereby we forget (or never experienced) the greater biodiversity that occurred in the UK in former decades and therefore lower our expectations and aspirations for conservation. Here the UKBMS has a vital role to play in showing how insect populations have declined over time."
Butterfly populations fluctuate naturally from year to year, but the long-term trends of UK butterflies are mainly driven by human activity, particularly the destruction of habitats and climate change. Conservation efforts can make a real difference to local populations and 2020 was a good year for a number of scarce species that are the targets of conservation action, including Large Blue (which had its joint second best year), Silver-spotted Skipper (which had its third best year), Silver-studded Blue (joint fourth best year) and Duke of Burgundy (joint sixth best year).
Among the UK's widespread butterfly species, Brimstone, Orange-tip and Marbled White all had a good year, although their numbers were not at the exceptional levels seen in 2019. After a run of four very poor years, Small Tortoiseshell numbers improved, showing an increase of 103% over 2019, but remaining below long-term average levels and the species still shows a serious (79%) decrease in abundance since 1976.
One species that had a particularly bad year was the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. In 2020, this butterfly experienced its third worst year on record, extending a run of nine consecutive years with below average numbers. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary populations have declined by 68% since the UKBMS recording began in 1976. The migrant Painted Lady also had a poor year and populations of Wall, Grayling and Small Skipper all remained at a low ebb.
Dr Marc Botham, Butterfly Ecologist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: "Despite 2020 being a challenging year for data gathering and conservation activity, we received nearly half a million records from more than 2,500 sites over the year.
"We are incredibly grateful to the thousands of volunteers who were able to carry out COVID-safe monitoring and maintain this invaluable long-term dataset. This enables scientists to better assess how butterflies are faring as well as the health of our countryside generally. Thanks to volunteers' efforts and advances in analytical methods, we were able to report on population levels on all but one of our UK butterfly species in 2020."
Sarah Harris, Breeding Bird Survey National Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, whose volunteers collect butterfly data through the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey, said: "While 2020 was an overall good year for UK butterflies, the latest results underline the value of long-term monitoring, since it is these data that reveal the impacts of habitat loss and climate change. Butterflies are a vital part of our ecosystems on which so many birds, mammals and other species rely and these data are so valuable to our understanding of the health of the natural environment.
"It is thanks to volunteers that we are able to monitor butterfly populations and hundreds of the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey volunteers revisit their bird recording squares to survey butterflies, moths and dragonflies for the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. We are grateful to all the volunteers who helped collate records for the UKBMS and are pleased to be part of this important monitoring."
All the data from for UKBMS 2020 can be accessed here: UKBMS.org/official-statistics
Please contact Contact the Press Office on 01929 406 005 for more information or to request an interview.
2019-09-26 Butterfly Conservation Press Office news; moth; mothnight; moth night;
Numerous recent sightings of a moth that became extinct in the UK in the 1960s, suggest that it has recolonised and is now breeding across southern Britain.
The Clifden Nonpareil, whose name means 'beyond compare', is one of the largest and most spectacular moths native to our shores.
With a wingspan that can reach almost 12cm and a bright blue stripe across its black hindwings (which gives rise to an alternative name of the Blue Underwing), this species has long been regarded as a holy grail among moth enthusiasts.
Immigrant moths from continental Europe appear to have re-established breeding colonies of this impressive insect in recent years, in south coast counties of England.
People are being asked to look for this moth and record any sightings as part of the annual Moth Night, an event run every year by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This year the event celebrates its 20th anniversary.
As part of this coming Moth Night on 26-28 September 2019 dedicated moth recorders and members of the public are being asked to survey moths and to submit their sightings via the website. Public events are also being held across the country to raise awareness of the importance and beauty of moths.
Moth Night founder and editor of Atropos, Mark Tunmore, said: "September is a special time for studying moths in the British Isles with a colourful range of resident species mixing with more exotic species from Europe or even North Africa as warm air currents sweep them northwards. Already this year we have received reports to our migrant insect news service, Flight Arrivals, of Clifden Nonpareil sightings from Cornwall, Devon, Sussex, Warwickshire, Suffolk, Dorset, Kent, Norfolk, Somerset and Northamptonshire.
"Some of these are likely to be immigrants and some part of the recently established resident populations. When we started Moth Night 20 years ago this moth was a very rare immigrant but it is now becoming familiar to moth enthusiasts across southern Britain. This illustrates just how quickly change can take place and that's why moths are such a fascinating group of insects to study.
"Coming at the peak of the Clifden Nonpareil season, Moth Night 2019 is a fantastic opportunity to map the current range of this species in Britain."
Another exciting migrant species being recorded this autumn is the Convolvulus Hawk-moth. This species has an unusually long proboscis (tongue) which allows it to feed on tubular flowers like tobacco plants. Participants in Moth Night are being asked to be on the lookout for both the Convolvulus Hawk-moth and the Clifden Nonpareil in order to help scientists learn more about their increasing numbers in the UK.
Richard Fox, Associate Director of Recording and Research at Butterfly Conservation said: "Moth Night is a wonderful opportunity to get face-to-face with the UK's magnificent moths including, if you are really lucky, the Clifden Nonpareil, and to contribute important data.
"Moth Night is running from 26-28 September this year and we really want to hear from anyone who has seen a Clifden Nonpareil, Convolvulus Hawk-moth or encountered any exciting migrant moths or even recorded some of the spectacular local species that fly on autumn nights.
"The Clifden Nonpareil is a fantastic addition to our wildlife, and it is great to know that it is resident again in the UK, after an absence of 40 years or so. Its caterpillars feed unnoticed up in the canopies of Aspen and poplar trees, so the adult moths are the best indication of how widely-established this species now is.
"This year, the Clifden Nonpareil is turning up all over southern Britain, in the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales, in Ceredigion and Monmouthshire, as well as in south coast counties. There's never been a better chance of a thrilling encounter with this impressive insect."
Dr Marc Botham, an ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: "Moth Night provides the perfect opportunity for people of all experiences to go out and record moths, with some fantastic species to look out for. Many moths are benefiting from climate change, being able to withstand the increasingly milder weather in particular over the winter months.
"Records collected on Moth Night will help contribute to our fantastic wealth of data on moths and other insect groups and help us to see how climate change and other drivers are affecting their populations in the UK."
Experts would love to hear of any moth sightings, so please submit these to www.mothnight.info and keep an eye on where the Clifden Nonpareils have been spotted so far at www.atropos.info/flightarrivals
People can also read more about the fascinating history of the Clifden Nonpareil in the recently published issue of Atropos - see www.atropos.info/magazine for details.
Events can be found at www.mothnight.info
Moth Night is normally held in the warmest months of the year; each event lasts for three consecutive nights (Thursday to Saturday) and takes place on different date periods every year.
You can participate on any one or more of these nights.
Moth Night 2019 is organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, with the aim of encouraging recording and raising the profile of moths amongst the public. The annual event was founded by Atropos in 1999.
For information about public events, prizes and to submit sightings visit www.mothnight.info
Atropos is the popular UK journal for butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts, catering for amateur and professional interests. www.atropos.info Up to the minute information about latest sightings of migrant insects around the British Isles may be found on the Flight Arrivals pages of this website.
Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run programmes for more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org @savebutterflies
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) www.ceh.ac.uk is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in the land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere, and part of the Natural Environment Research Council. CEH employs more than 450 people at four major sites in England, Scotland and Wales, hosts over 150 PhD students, and has an overall budget of about £35m. CEH tackles complex environmental challenges to deliver practicable solutions so that future generations can benefit from a rich and healthy environment. You can follow the latest developments in CEH research via @CEHScienceNews on Twitter
Please contact Contact the Press Office on 01929 406 005 for more information or to request an interview.
2019-08-29 Katie Callaghan - Butterfly Conservation climate; long-tailed blue; migration;
More than 50 Long-tailed Blue butterflies and hundreds of the butterfly's eggs have been discovered over the last few weeks, which could result in the largest ever emergence of the butterfly in UK history.
Experts believe rising temperatures are behind the influx, with sightings of the butterfly coming in from Cornwall right across to Kent, as far north as Suffolk and even into Surrey - where the Long-tailed Blue hasn't been seen since 1990.
Typically, only a handful of these exotic migrants from the Mediterranean reach the UK each summer, but this is the third time in six years that the butterfly has arrived in vastly increased numbers and 2019 looks set to surpass the previous peaks witnessed in 2013 and 2015.
Butterfly Conservation volunteer and Long-tailed Blue expert, Neil Hulme,, said: "These butterflies have crossed the Channel and are laying eggs in gardens, allotments and anywhere you can find Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea and similar plants, which the caterpillar likes to feed on.
"We've never recorded this many migrant adults before - it's completely unprecedented. In only a few days, I've found more than 100 eggs in Sussex alone and the butterfly has been seen in Cornwall, Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Kent and Suffolk. We've even had a sighting in Glamorgan in South Wales.
"What's really exciting is that the Long-tailed Blue has gone further inland than it did in 2013 and 2015, with at least three confirmed sightings in Surrey, where the butterfly hasn't been seen for 30 years.
"The adults will keep laying eggs and in September and October we'll see the first British-born offspring emerging. I strongly believe this will take the total number seen this year to well over a hundred, breaking all previous records for this butterfly in the UK."
The Long-tailed Blue has previously been considered a very rare visitor to the UK, despite being abundant across southern Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
The butterfly was seen for the very first time in Britain in 1859, but over the next 80 years only 30 adults were recorded here. Significant influxes occurred in 1945, 1990 and most recently in 2015, but none of these equalled the invasion of 2013, when 109 sightings were recorded between July and October.
Neil added: "This is one of the world's more successful species of butterfly. It may be small, but it's a very powerful flyer, capable of crossing mountain ranges and seas.
"In hot weather it can go through its entire life cycle in just over a month, which is half the period taken by many species. The caterpillar grows up inside the flowers and pods of peas and similar plants, hidden away from predators. It has the full toolkit for world domination."
The butterfly gets its name from the wispy 'tails' on the trailing edge of each of its hindwings, which flutter in the breeze. Adjacent eye spots fool birds into thinking this is the head of the butterfly, allowing it to escape any attacks unharmed.
The male is a striking violet-blue colour, while the female is a mix of duller blue and brown. The underside of both sexes is a sandy brown colour crossed by numerous white, wavy lines.
Dr Dan Hoare from Butterfly Conservation said: "With unprecedented numbers of Long-tailed Blues and UK sightings of other rarities, like the Bedstraw Hawk-moth and Queen of Spain Fritillary butterfly, 2019 is certainly turning out to be an exciting year for immigrant species.
"The Long-tailed Blue is still a way off from becoming a resident butterfly in this country, as it can't survive our winter. However, what we're seeing this year confirms the butterfly is extending its geographical range northwards in response to climate change - so we can look forward to seeing this beautiful little butterfly more regularly.
"Our rapidly changing climate brings positives for some expanding species, while others may find it much harder to adapt and keep pace with the changes. Butterflies, moths and other insects respond quickly to environmental change, providing an indicator of the impacts of a warming climate on the natural world."
Please report any Long-tailed Blue sightings to email@example.com or through the free iRecord Butterflies app.
Please contact Contact the Press Office on 01929 406 005 for more information or to request an interview.
2019-04-08 Butterfly Conservation Press Office butterfly; summer; heatwave; 2018;
UK butterflies bounced back in 2018 following a string of poor years, thanks in part to last year’s heatwave summer, a study has revealed.
More than two-thirds of UK butterfly species (39 of 57) were seen in higher numbers than in 2017, with two of the UK’s rarest, the Large Blue and Black Hairstreak, recording their best years since records began.
But despite the upturn, 2018 was still only an average year for the UK’s butterflies. Around two thirds of species (36 of 57) show an apparent decline since records began 43 years ago, with 21 of these showing significant long-term declines, the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) led by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) revealed.
Numbers of the threatened Large Blue rose by 58% from 2017 levels and the endangered Black Hairstreak was up by more than 900%.
Both species benefited from warm and sunny weather when they were flying in the early summer, whilst the cold spell in February and March may have also helped by improving survival of caterpillars and chrysalises.
Brown Argus and Speckled Wood butterflies also thrived, recording their third best year on record.
Common white butterflies experienced a good year after a recent run of below-average seasons with Large White annual abundance up 118%, the Small White rising by 155% and the Green-veined White increasing by 63%, again due to warm and sunny weather from April to the end of July.
The threatened Duke of Burgundy was up 65%. This butterfly has been the subject of intensive conservation efforts in recent years from Butterfly Conservation and partners, with some of the biggest annual increases seen at conservation sites. The butterfly’s population has stabilised over the last 10 years in the face of a significant long-term decline.
The hot spring and summer weather was not ideal for all species. Some grassland butterflies struggled, not helped by drought conditions drying out caterpillar food plants. The Gatekeeper dropped by 20% from 2017 levels and the Small Skipper and Essex Skipper were down by 24% and 32% respectively.
It was also a surprisingly poor year for some garden favourites. The Small Tortoiseshell slumped by 38% compared to the previous year and the Peacock was down 25%, whilst the migratory Red Admiral crashed by 75% after a good year in 2017.
Professor Tom Brereton, Associate Director of Monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said: “2018 brought some welcome relief for butterflies following five below average years in a row. But, there were not as many butterflies around as we might have expected given the fabulous weather over much of the butterfly season and overall 2018 ranked as barely better than average.
“This and the fact that two thirds of butterflies show negative trends over the long-term, highlights the scale of the challenge we face in restoring their fortunes and creating a healthier environment.
“It remains to be seen what the knock-on effects of the 2019 heatwave will be. We know that extreme events such as this, which are set to increase under climate change, are generally damaging to butterflies.”
Dr Marc Botham, Butterfly Ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “The results show the positive impact that suitable weather conditions can have if there is suitable habitat in place for our butterflies to thrive.
“Thanks to ongoing habitat management, many of our threatened species can benefit from the good weather like that of summer 2018, but more still needs to be done to improve the condition of the wider countryside as a whole so other species can also take advantage. This can start in our own back gardens, by leaving areas unmown and planting native wildflower species, for example.”
Sarah Harris, Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) National Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: “It is great to see hundreds of birdwatchers taking part in the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey on BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey squares.
“By doing so, dedicated and skilled volunteers are bringing together the monitoring of multiple taxa groups at each survey site and contributing to butterfly population trends. This is a fantastic example of how partnerships should work. I encourage anyone interested to take part in the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey on either their Breeding Bird Survey squares or on Butterfly Conservation's survey squares."
Anna Robinson, Monitoring Ecologist at JNCC said: “Understanding changes in the environment is important in driving conservation action. We are grateful to the thousands of volunteers who submit records to the UKBMS, providing really valuable evidence on the state of butterflies in the UK.”
The UKBMS has run since 1976 and involves thousands of volunteers collecting data through the summer. Last year a record 2873 sites were monitored across the UK.
The scheme is organised and funded by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
For interviews and images contact the Butterfly Conservation Press Office on 01929 406005 firstname.lastname@example.org
Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run projects to protect more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is the UK’s foremost independent bird research organisation and organises a range of annual and periodic surveys, mainly on birds, and including the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey. Information on population trends in birds and other wildlife are provided on our website (www.bto.org) and you can follow the latest news and developments via twitter @_BTO and @BBS_birds
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) a centre of excellence for integrated research into land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere. CEH is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) research institute, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Centre’s independent, impartial science addresses major societal and environmental challenges: how to protect and enhance the environment and the benefits it provides; how to build resilience to environmental hazards; and how to manage environmental change. Its core expertise is in environmental monitoring, measuring and modelling. www.ceh.ac.uk @CEHScienceNews
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to the UK Government and devolved administrations on UK and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity sustaining natural systems.